Abstract

Squishy Robotics, Inc. has developed a spherical sensor robot that can be rapidly deployed by air drops of up to 1,000 ft for emergency response situations to improve situational awareness for first responders. Although the tensegrity structure has successfully been shown to survive the drop, some payloads require orientation when they land. For example, a payload that contains sensors and communication equipment to relay the data may need the robot to be oriented such that the antennas are pointing upward, or some sensors are positioned in a specific plane for operation. This requirement presents a challenge for a tensegrity-based delivery system because the structure absorbs energy using passive compliance and bounces several times upon landing. Although active systems using motors and actuators could be used to control orientation after landing, they increase the overall weight and complexity of the system. This paper describes the research on a passive control solution that achieves the correct orientation by placing weights on selected rods forming an asymmetrically weighted tensegrity structure that preferentially rolls and orients itself during the impact process. The design approach is applied to three robot sizes and the self-righting behavior is validated through experimental results.

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